Magic the Gathering is a game that has been around for more then twenty years. If you believe Wikipedia at this point it has just about twenty-three years being a hobby for people. Each set of cards can be broken down between core and expansion sets. Core sets are just that adding to a core of items that can still change depending to the kind of event. Expansion sets are additional sets made that would often communicate a piece of a story including the creation of characters, places, and the events that would give a little more life then what would be in the core set. A few expansions over the span of a year would make a block and that would be the end of the story there for now. The next set of the next block would start another story and we would go on. Each set would have different mechanics introduced and different characters or stories making a different experience from set to set. This can be harder for some players to jump in all of a sudden depending on the sets mechanics, and how they would interact in the overall game.
Here are my five top expansion blocks. These are my opinion because there is not a set of good against evil and I will try to at least explain them in some form or fashion.
Alara – Introducing groups that are three colors the color combinations are set for the most part but still allow a fair amount of choices for players to work on. The story on this one was that the plane of Alara was broken in to five shards with each shard only having access to three forms of mana which would then dictate the evolution of that area. Mana is something that is particular to each kind of basic lands with five kinds of lands representing a color as well as a specific form of it. Three colors are harder things for beginners, but I found the cards entertaining on the prospect that you could go with a two color or three color deck with plenty of possibilities. Single cards could add a lot more choices in to a deck’s play style. This was released from mid 2008 to mid 2009.
Return to Ravnica – This is the second set dealing with Ravnica and it dealt with the evolution in the guilds that started in the previous sets and with that there were a lot of cards that work with the dual color combinations. Each combination of colors is still represented with a group and a play style that was was evolved from the previous Ravnica set adding several mechanics to the cards in addition to the ten from the previous set. Seeing how the groups had evolved over the years from the previous set added another shot to the arm with dual color deck possibilities. Mid 2012 to mid 2013 is when this set was released making it fairly recent addition. The story between the Ravnica revolves around a maze that must make it’s way through the sections of each of the groups, and how each group will try to help their own runner or spoil the efforts of others.
Ravnica – This was the set that gave dual color combinations for each of the ten possible combinations of colors including different play styles, mechanics, and history for each one. While the mythology is not pulled from a different mythology it has a lot of things that make this a fun set to play. Adding to it where creatures with four kinds of mana needed. The nephilim are hard to summon, but with a little skill they can turn a game just with one showing up on your side of the field. This would have to be the best set for just having fun with a group of people simply because with the variety of styles in these sets one can truly make a deck for each guild and each person can play it differently. This came from 2005 to 2006 right after my favorite block.
Theros Block – Built with an eye on the pantheon of gods found in Greek myth it created a structure of gods and mortals dueling to see who will be able to go on with the various champions. Being a fan of mythology made this one get off on the right foot already. The art is some of the best and introducing mechanics like the enchantment creatures as well as the bestow mechanic turning a creature in to a power up first. It was some of the most entertaining drafts while playing in this block. Draft events were ones where you had to make the deck with random packs of cards along with basic lands. This was released mid 2013 to mid 2014.
Kamigawa Block – Comprising of three different sets with a story line of the spirits, and minor gods against the humans that lived on the two portions of the same plane. Many of the cards pull some visual and ideas from the mythology of Japan. Spirits are one of the main creature types on this block, and for many years this was the block that people knew me for. Going so far for some stores to not allow Kamigawa themed decks in events because people are not happy they were losing. All five colors seemed to be balanced enough where you can build a deck that can be competitive no matter how you cut it. Many times if you ran spirits you had all the tools to run an engine of your choice helped by the Bakus, Myojins, Kirins and more. Coming out from late 2004 to mid 2005 some of my best memories were made with cards built from this era. Multiple choices, the ins and outs of a plane at war, and the entire feel of the set makes it my favorite. It is also a set where I think people can learn quicker then the some of the other sets which is also how I came in to magic as more of a full time hobby.
There are close to two dozen different blocks at this time of writing not including the expansion sets released before the block format was introduced. My bottom five would be pretty easy and maybe another day I will write about it, but reallly the sets define the players and my bottom five show that more then the top.